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Karen Gillan's Sundance Movie Dual Is Like Black Mirror Meets The Hunger Games

Karen Gillan and Aaron Paul in Dual
(Image credit: XYZ Films)

Ever since I saw Karen Gillan transform from Doctor Who’s fiery Amy Pond into troubled, yet badass Nebula for Guardians of the Galaxy, I should have known we were in for a fantastical ride from the Scottish actress. Now here comes her latest film, Dual, which is absolutely wild, darkly humorous and straight up depressing all at the same time. I kind of loved it. 

CinemaBlend is currently covering Sundance during this year’s virtual festival, and I need to talk about Dual. The science fiction movie was written and directed by Riley Stearns, who previously made the critically-acclaimed 2019 movie The Art of Self-Defense. Following the indie movie’s premiere, it’s already been acquired and will be distributed into theaters sometime this year. Before you see it, I’ll prime you with a bit about its incredible concept and why you’ll want to see it once it does come out. 

The idea of cloning has been in discussion among not only the scientific community, but sci-fi fans for years, and Dual imagines a future of it becoming a reality in a super dark and entertaining way. Karen Gillan plays the gloomy and awkward Sarah, who finds out she is unequivocally going to die. In an effort to ease the pain of her loved ones, she decides to look into “Replacement,” which lets her clone herself, teach the clone her likeness and then allow it to take her place once she’s gone. 

Karen Gillan and Karen Gillan as Sarah and clone in Dual

(Image credit: XYZ Films)

But when Karen Gillan’s Sarah meets her double, she does not want to live in her likeness. Instead, the clone wants to be a better version of Sarah; one that is not ridden with anxieties or boring fashion choices and addictive habits. I won’t get into depth about what happens next, but as you can imagine, Sarah finds herself in quite a pickle with her double. 

It’s been over two years since we’ve seen a new season of Black Mirror, and Dual feels like it comes straight out of the series’ best episodes. It finds some of its tone, as it just plops you into a near future through the eyes of one circumstance rather than spoon-feeding exactly when and where. It has an intense discussion with the audience about the power and pitfalls cloning could have on our society. It also really reminds me of The Hunger Games

That’s right. Again, I’ll stay cryptic, but the second half of the movie involves Karen Gillan’s Sarah hiring a trainer, played by Breaking Bad’s Aaron Paul, to help her kill her clone. There’s an entire framework built around how the two Sarahs must duel each other, which will be broadcast to the world. There’s nothing like Districts or love triangles involving a boy who likes baking named Peeta (this is an independent film, remember), but there’s something about having to fight someone in front of others because you have to save yourself in a sci-fi setting that completely took me back. 

With all that being said, Dual stirs a lot of emotions in its runtime. It’s funny, but most definitely not all fun and games. I recommend it once it gets a release date. While we wait, check out what other upcoming movies are on their way here on CinemaBlend. 

YA genre tribute. Horror May Queen. Word webslinger. All her writing should be read in Sarah Connor’s Terminator 2 voice over.